Ma Dai

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Ma Dai
General of Shu Han
Born (Unknown)
Died (Unknown)
Traditional Chinese 馬岱
Simplified Chinese 马岱
Pinyin Mǎ Dài
Wade–Giles Ma Tai
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ma.

Ma Dai (birth and death dates unknown) was a military general of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. He previously served under his uncle Ma Teng, a warlord in northwestern China, during the late Eastern Han Dynasty. After Ma Teng's death, he followed his cousin Ma Chao (Ma Teng's eldest son) and they joined the warlord Zhang Lu in Hanzhong for a short period of time. Ma Chao later defected to another warlord Liu Bei, and Ma Dai accompanied him. Ma Dai served under Liu Bei and later in the state of Shu Han (founded by Liu Bei).

Not much information on Ma Dai is found in historical records. It is known that in 234, he participated in the fifth Northern Expedition led by Shu's chancellor Zhuge Liang to attack the Shu's rival state Cao Wei. Ma Dai was also credited with slaying the Shu general Wei Yan, who was alleged to have turned against Shu after the death of Zhuge Liang.


Ma Dai is Ma Chao's younger cousin who is mentioned in the Record of the Three Kingdoms. His earlier history remains unknown and he isn't mentioned until Ma Chao was dying in 222. Ma Chao said, "I am among the 200 people of my family that survive and Cao Cao slaughter them all , yet my cousin Ma Dai who will remain. I entrust him to faithfully serve His Majesty (Liu Bei) and preserve our family." When Ma Chao passed away, Ma Dai was given the rank of General Who Pacifies the North and was named Marquis of Chencang.

After Zhuge Liang died of illness, Wei Yan and Yang Yi were mutually hostile towards one another. When rumors of Wei Yan's defection reached Liu Shan's ears, Ma Dai was ordered to slay the betrayer. According to the Record of the Three Kingdoms and the Book of Jin, Ma Dai killed Wei Yan during the latter's escape. There are no accounts of him being rewarded for his deed.

His last mention in historical records is 235, in which he and his army invaded Wei. He was defeated by Niu Jin and fled after his army was cut down to 1,000 men.

In fiction[edit]

Ma Dai appears as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, in which he is given a larger role. In the novel, he followed Ma Teng to the capital on a summon from Cao Cao, and survived when Ma Teng and his sons were killed by Cao Cao's men in a trap. He joined his cousin Ma Chao in the Battle of Tong Pass against Cao Cao, and accompanied Ma Chao when the latter was defeated and had to seek refuge under Zhang Lu of Hanzhong. He followed Ma Chao and came to serve Liu Bei when his cousin defected to Liu during Liu Bei's takeover of Yi Province.

Ma Dai participated actively in southern campaign against the Nanman and the Northern Expeditions against the rival state of Cao Wei. After Zhuge Liang's death, the Shu general Wei Yan rebelled, and Ma Dai pretended to support him but killed him later.

Modern references[edit]

Ma Dai is first introduced as a playable character in the seventh installment of Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series.

See also[edit]